Highway to get broader shoulders

Following minor widening near town,the length of the roadway will be repaved.

The island’s main transportation artery is expected to flow a little easier this summer after it undergoes one of its most substantial overhauls.

The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to completely repave State Route 305 in August and widen the thoroughfare’s shoulder near downtown for improved bicycle access.

“The highway’s not in good shape,” said WSDOT project manager John McNutt. “We want to revitalize the roadway so we won’t have to get into it for another 15 to 20 years.”

The highway last received a repaving and improvement project of this size about 17 years ago.

The overhaul is part of a broader $19 million project that will include similar improvements along the entire highway, which runs from the Winslow ferry terminal to Poulsbo.

The highway averages about 24,000 vehicle trips each day, with substantial increases during the summer.

Much of the island’s $2 million worth of roadwork, which is expected to begin in early August and possibly run until Labor Day, will mean late evening and early morning traffic delays.

Work crews contracted to Bremerton’s Ace Paving Co. will pave the Bainbridge stretch of the highway Sundays through Thursdays between 7:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. Crews will close one lane at a time, with delays expected at 15 minutes or less, according to McNutt.

The impact on traffic is a necessary sacrifice, said Councilman Bill Knobloch, who has followed traffic issues as a longtime member of the city’s Public Works Committee.

“We have the tourist season coming up and everybody’s going to be out driving (the roadwork) won’t be an easy thing,” he said.

“But Ace Paving working those god-awful hours at night will help us.”

Day-time roadwork was ruled-out after WDOT studied the possible impact to commuter traffic.

“It would back-up traffic for four miles,” said McNutt. “It’d be total gridlock. Working at night, people will be inconvenienced a little bit, but the alternative is dreadful.”

Knobloch said the roadway makeover is long overdue.

“We haven’t had anything major done in a really long time,” he said, citing road edge deterioration and failing road patches as some of the highway’s most significant ailments.

The highway will receive a new 2-inch coat of hot-mix asphalt, along with sidewalk ramp upgrades and the relocation of a sign bridge near Winslow Way.

The sign will be moved about 5 feet away from a sidewalk to allow more room for pedestrians.

The shoulder widening project will expand 305’s east shoulder about 6 feet along a stretch of the highway between Winslow Way and High School Road.

“That’s primarily cyclists getting to the ferry,” McNutt said. “Whether they’re commuters or touring the island, cyclists tend to go on 305.

“Right now it’s a very narrow shoulder – or no shoulder – which makes it more risky.”


Highway 305 revisited

In addition to this summer’s upgrades, State Route 305 is set to undergo long-range planning to explore rapid transit options between Winslow and Poulsbo.

Initiated by Kitsap Transit, the Suquamish Tribe, the cities of Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo and others, the “SR 305 Corridor Vision” project will kick off a series of public workshops in early June. Options on the table include rapid bus service, light rail and emerging transportation technologies. The study could include planning into the year 2060.

“We want to examine high-capacity transit with forums to find what potentially might work between Poulsbo and Winslow,” said Erin Tam, who is leading the project for Seattle-based Otak transportation consultants.

Councilman Bill Knobloch expects high public participation in the planning process. “I’m really looking forward to the results because 305 is the core artery of transportation,” he said. “We need to look at mass transit (as) we see a lot of growth in Kitsap County.”

Otak will hold a public meetings on Bainbridge at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. June 5-6, with other forums in Suquamish and Poulsbo. The results will be presented at the Clearwater Casino Resort in Suquamish at 9 a.m. June 10. Otak expects to complete the study in early 2007.

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